I had myself convinced for far too many years that my husband's children thought of me as part of their family. I found out in a very painful manner that they don't when my uncle died. They didn't say a word. None of them asked me if I was all right, they didn't offer me an "I'm sorry for your loss". I posted his obituary on my Facebook page and people who have never met me reacted to it with the sad emoji or said they were sorry in a comment. From my husband's family there was absolutely zero acknowledgement for my loss.
My husband and both of his sons are self employed. While the sons have their own business certificates and company names, their business comes to them from the business phone number and advertising paid for by my husband. When I retired, that phone became my responsibility. I'm the one that answers it, takes the messages and forwards them to the proper person or I set up the appointments and portable restroom rentals and forward that information. I receive no pay for this. I benefit from my husband's income, however, the bulk of the calls I take are not his. I saw this as helping people I care about and willingly put up with the aggravation of not being able to go anywhere.
For 16 months of my retirement I left the house to go grocery shopping, to the doctors office or to the hairdressers. For 16 months I carried a phone into the bathroom so I wouldn't miss a call. I have gotten out of a shower covered in soap and dripped all over the bathroom floor more times than I can count so that nobody missed an opportunity to make money. For 16 months I saw my 93 year old uncle maybe 3 or 4 times.
He was 93. He needed help that I am qualified to give. There is so much we could have shared had I not been so sure I was doing the right thing for people who mattered to me and who I thought I mattered to. I essentially gave up being there for my family to be there for someone else's family and I can't make that up to my Uncle because he's gone.
I did a Facebook post about how I felt. I said in it that I taught them to treat me as if I had no value to them. I got told that I had no right to criticize my husband's children or their spouses. They had lives outside of Facebook. They don't seem to grasp that the lives they have outside of Facebook are made possible by the life I lost answering their business calls. I actually got told by one of them that she lost her Mom and Dad 5 years apart and she didn't attack anyone. Odd how she doesn't remember I was there offering her a shoulder to cry on if she needed it. Something none of them offered to me.
None of them cared enough about me to offer condolences and as far as they're concerned I had no right to expect any. There is absolutely nothing I can do about this except move on. The problem is finding a way to move on without damaging my relationship with my husband. I refuse to place him in the position of having to choose sides or to deal with a major blow up.
I'm still stuck answering the phone and taking their messages although sometimes I just give out the cell phone number belonging to the person the call is for. Today I'm purchasing a new phone system so I can let an answering machine relieve me of the need to go to the bathroom with the phone in hand. I have missed a couple of calls for one of the sons who found out about it when they ran into him. He was quick enough to call me to complain. I didn't even say I was sorry. I just said that I went to the bathroom, shit happens. I handed the phone to his father and walked away.
I have never asked them for anything and a part of me wishes I had. I would have been forced to acknowledge the situation instead of continuing to fool myself. Truthfully, the evidence was there, I just chose not to see it because it occurred in situations that weren't so painful for me. I can't say I forgive you for what you did to me because they didn't do it to me. They just did what they always do. They were who they always have been. It was me who placed trust in them to care enough to pick me up when I was down. It won't happen again.